How Not To Suck At Photography – Part One

Photo of a camera phone taking photo

photo: Shamil Ahmed – ShamPhat Photography

Shamil Ahmed, an ex-sucky freelance photographer, now a not-so sucky freelance photographer is here with quick tips on how you can take photographs like a boss. 

Whatever type of camera you have, whether its a DSLR, a smartphone or what-not, you have the ability to be an epic photographer. Whether you are a beginner, or a veteran (who just ‘forgot’), let me bring you up to speed:

1. BE FREE, MY BUTTERFLY

The best way to actually get good at photography is (simply put) to just take photos.

cat jumping off balcony

Source: imgur.com

Practice, practice and practice my dear. You will find that those dynamic upside-down photos you used to take actually look weird, and those simple artistic eye-level ones you take actually rock.

Keep your camera/smartphone always with you, at all times wherever you go.

Take photos of whatever you think looks cool (everything), and don’t ever be ashamed, shy or think that you’ll take a shot of a certain something later, ‘live in the now’, or you might just miss that beautiful shot, believe me, I’VE MISSED LOADS OF CHANCES (sad face).

A crow sat upon a roof of a house at the early hours during sunrise

Photo: Shamil Ahmed – ShamPhat Photography

Here is a chance I didn’t miss. At five in the morning, the sun was gleaming through my window during its rise, and I woke up to witness this. Instead of being lazy (like usual) I got up, grabbed my camera and captured this moment. I’m glad that I did. It would haunt me forever if I didn’t.

2. ITS NOT THE SIZE THAT MATTERS, ITS WHAT YOU DO WITH IT

Dude, no matter what sort of image capturing device you have, you can take really good photos.

Monkey taking a picture with a DSLR camera. Picture is captioned: "That's the problem these days. Every monkey with an SLR camera think's he's a photographer"

source: http://onlygags.com

Hey, don’t get me wrong…having a gazillion pound camera/lens can help, but it’s no good if the photographer doesn’t know what to do with it.

Master your settings, know your environment, set up your shot, and work it. You can do so much with your phone, even better than what some can do with a camera.

If you’re shooting with a smartphone: use a filter, or shoot on HDR mode, play with your settings and see how to make the shot look best, then you come out with beauties like this:

orange and blue tinted sunset sky with a flock of birds flying across the scene

source: instagram.com/minimalistwoman

(Yes, that was taken on a smartphone).

Or if you have a DSLR: Change to manual mode, change your exposure, shutter speed and ISO to match the scene, and bang, take pretty shots like this:

An image of a beautiful moroccan tea set

Photo: Shamil Ahmed – ShamPhat Photography

 3. IT’S ALIVE

If you think your photos aren’t coming out so great, don’t sweat it, all hope is not lost… editing will save you.

An image of a man hugging a bride of a wedding, with the image showing what it looked like before and after editing

source: slrlounge.com

You can make the perfect moment that you captured, but wasn’t captured just right, look just the way you wanted it to.

When taking photos in a situation under pressure (eg an event), some of them can go sour. Do not bring yourself down. With editing, you can have your second wind.

When editing, you will want to concentrate on: contrast, exposure, saturation/vibrance and sharpness. Those are just the basics, but that will definitely take you a long way.

On computers, using software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom can be pretty awesome for your images; you can make various changes with a lot of options and freedom.

Photoshop and Lightroom can be expensive, but fear not, there’s plenty of awesome (free) software online that does a great job too:

On smartphones there’s awesome apps out there too. Here’s a list I prepared earlier (they’re free, woohoo!):

 4. Simple and Clean

Remember, photography is an art, so be effective and efficient in your shot, make the shot do the talking, not your editing.

An image of a couple sharing a coat to cover each other from the rain

source: homme-classique.tumblr.com

Following on the point of editing, sometimes (99% of the time) a simple and clear shot says a lot more than a complex shot could ever do. Sometimes editing isn’t necessary at all, even when you think you need it.

‘A picture is worth a thousand words.’

Like with writing, film-making and a whole load of other things, ultimately, you are your own worst enemy and critic. So be easy on yourself and put your feet in the audience’s shoes time to time and get a feel for your hard work.

Direct your audiences eyes onto a single object or person. You are capturing a moment, not an image, not an action, a moment. Make the audience see and feel what you saw when you felt you had to capture that exact moment. Always ask yourself ‘why does someone else need to see this?’

5. It’s Not That Easy Being ME

Photography for a lot of us isn’t something we can just pick up and do. It gets frustrating, and that’s normal.

breaking bad scene in which walter white throws a pizza onto his roof

source: good-sex-and-rock-and-roll.tumblr.com

There will be days where you are just off, learn from it. Think about what you could do differently, photography can be a very time consuming thing.

Consider warming up, knowing your setting and your camera, what you can change about your environment or even just being a friendly person and asking people to pose for a photo (you won’t believe how often that works). There’s so many little things that you can alter or work with, and I think that is the beauty of photography.

You have your own style, or you may be yet to find it, but it is awesome. So continue to be unique, and with these teeny tips I hope you now have the skills, drive and tools to kick butt in the world of photography. You are now officially (even more) epic.

Do you have any more tips to add to this list? Was it helpful? Do you want to show us some of your new epic photographs (of course you do), tweet/follow (on twitter) or tag us (on instagram): @rifemag